The Vice Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, has called for stricter adherence to professional ethics by lawyers in a lecture to new wigs. He outlined concerning trends like declining moral standards, misconduct in court, and corrupt practices that are tarnishing the image of the legal profession.
Awomolo quoted retired Supreme Court Justice Chukwudifu Oputa’s 1976 observation that the legal profession has lost the dignity and self-respect it once held. Oputa called for action to “restore the pristine dignity, splendor and glory” of the profession.
The lecture highlighted court judgments that condemned misconducts like abusive language, conflicts of interest, and discourtesy to the judiciary. Awomolo welcomed new Rules of Professional Conduct gazetted in May 2023 to address issues around advertising, corruption and money laundering.
He advised that obedience to professional ethics should start from law school and call to bar, and entry into the profession should be denied to candidates of questionable character. Awomolo suggested lawyers who engage in egregious misconduct should be struck off the bar.
In conclusion, Awomolo stated that for young lawyers, “Obedience to Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession should be the beginning of wisdom.” The lecture signifies the legal establishment aims to tackle declining ethical standards and repair the tainted image of the once noble profession.